2 Comments

Mo Servers, Mo Problems

 

On one hand, we shouldn’t be concerned with measuring the “success” of an MMO. What makes a game successful is in some ways an arbitrary thing to begin with. Yes, financials are one aspect, but measurables past that depend on to what degree you think games are art or not. They are a creation, but an interactive creation that can have a deeper personal impact than, say, a desk chair. To me, Dark Age of Camelot (yup, bringing that up again) was a huge success. Try telling that to a fresher crop of MMO gamers and they may roll their eyes at the thought because, on the other hand, people will measure an MMO success by other means.

This whole thought process got started because of the recent ArenaNet post regarding the increased number of servers now primed and ready for the droves of would be beta testers for this coming weekend. No doubt doubling the servers was a “must” in ANet’s eyes, but I can’t help but feel like the worried old man who has lived through some tough times and seen this before. Having abundant servers for an MMO, in my experience, is a double-edged sword. It makes for good times during the launch phase, but eventually acts as a magnet for doomsayers when the game is settling to nominal levels further down the road.

If you remember Warhammer Online’s experiences with server merges, you’ll recall that it wasn’t pretty. It was needed, and for many players it was a boon to have fresh blood pumping through the world, but many were adversely impacted by the shuffle. The removal of servers additionally acted as a de-motivator to some degree due to the negativity surrounding the game. Even those who still held on to hope for it, like myself, couldn’t help but question the games future*.

So what am I getting at? Just worry, mostly. MMO’s nearly always open their doors like floodgates to the sudden deluge of players, only to see the waters eventually settle out. When they do, people respond negatively to any adjustment made by the developers. I just hope that ArenaNet is prepared to ride that wave.

*I only speak in past tenses for myself. WAR is still active and people, like Werit, seem to be enjoying the game.

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2 comments on “Mo Servers, Mo Problems

  1. You knowi logged into Rift last week and noticed they lost a ton of servers. I really don’t remember a big stink about that. Maybe I wasn’t focused on it? I think WAR had such a hard time because they had a big mouth. If SWTOR has mergers they might have a stink because there are so many people. WoW SHOULD merge but they hide it very good with the cross server structure. The game is ghost town in world PvE, but the cross server makes a great illusion. That is why more MMO should have that type structure in place.

    I think GW2 will do fine because they are not loud mouths and a lot of the servers in place are overflow. If they shut down overflow nobody will know. I would say if they can keep regular servers under 100 they should be able to survive long enough to get out of the spot light 2-3 years down the road.

  2. As your opening paragraph alludes to, there’s seen and there’s unseen factors. The “Seen” factors are the servers we choose when we log in. The “Unseen”…well, is unseen.

    I don’t know how this server voodoo works for these games, but think about Amazon. We know Amazon as “Amazon.com: The Website”. That website is actually spread out across an unknown number of servers. What we see — the website — is powered by the unseen — several servers.

    IF ANet’s addition of servers isn’t a 1-1 equation between the visible “shards” and physical boxes, and is instead one shard to many servers, then I don’t think this is going to give anyone any ammo for using server name count as a way to measure success. 

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